Monday, April 25, 2011

Reversible Dress

I'm a little bit proud of my achievements lately - I figured out how to make a reversible dress for Esme all by myself. Probably not such a big deal to other people but it was to me (I often have trouble understanding how things fit together!) This is the end result:

Plain side of the reversible dress with coordinating pocket

Patterned side of the reversible dress (that's the end of my stash of upcycled material *sob*)

And the girl in her dress at Easter!

Now to get on to more sewing before I have this baby!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Easter (in pictures)

We woke up on Easter morning to find that Easter Bunny had left pawprints and bunny fur down the corridor...

He'd also left us some yummy chocolate lollipops...

And lots of other things!

Jacob was so excited to get these space books from Easter Bunny!

We made some special presents for family (these are seeded recycled paper baskets)

And filled them with a homemade hollow Easter egg with m&m's and jaffas in the middle.

We shared a yummy lunch with all our family (including this delish chocolatey Easter cake)

And went on an Easter Hunt together!

Esme had a pocket in her dress that she used to put all the Easter Eggs she found

Jacob found lots of eggs which he counted!


Week 3 of decluttering: The Paperwork and Filing Cabinet

So, according to my wonderful husband, filing all the paperwork is not 'decluttering' because it's already in a neat pile. I will never understand the logic of men sometimes (sorry Chris ;)) In my defence, I filed this huge pile of paperwork AND cleaned out the filing cabinet at the same time! I hate filing paperwork with a passion (and I suspect I'm not the only one). This pile has been building up for probably a year and it was well and truly time to do something about it.

The first job was to sort the pile into paperwork to shred and paperwork to file. I stacked all the similar things into piles and then put them into date order, ready to go into the filing cabinet. Luckily I'd tidied the bench for our Easter lunch and it wasn't covered by all my craft stuff.

The paperwork all sorted into similar piles and ready to file

After I'd sorted out the pile, I went through the files in the cabinet and threw out some of the older paperwork that didn't need to be kept anymore. I've started to only keep paperwork for a certain amount of time as it gets a little out of control otherwise.

The stack of stuff to shred!

I ended up with a huge pile of paperwork to shred! This pile is just the beginning as I ended up adding more to it. Luckily I had willing helpers to help me shred the paper. We put most of the shredded paperwork into the recycling bin but we also used a bit of it in the worm farm, now that's recycling!

Putting the paper through the shredder kept the kids amused for ages!

I'll have to look at getting more of our bills electronically in the future (we do already get some this way) as doing all this has made me realise just how much paper is used and wasted!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lunch for one?

I've been busy making a felt lunch for a special little boy's 2nd birthday these past few days. I came across this great sandwich pattern from another blog which I used to make the sandwich and all the things in it (meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and bread) and then used my pattern from umecraft to make the felt banana. The paper bag was my own creation although didn't really require a lot of skill to make ;)

I hope the little boy in question likes it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Teach/Learn

Lots of lovely links to Easter ideas today. It seems like most people are on holidays, so here are lots of things to read and do with kids.

  • Nurturing Forests is wondering about the debate about the celebration of Easter in Long Day Care.
  • She also has the most gorgeous Batik eggs, given my kids’ love of candles we’ll be doing these ones.
  • To make a change from all the lovely decorated eggs, the Science@home girls dissolved egg shells and made Bouncy Eggs.
  • Jeannezoo at Zella Said Purple has Easter with a twist – an art/science project with 4s/5s to “study baskets and anything that carries anything else”. We research items, make lists of features, then design our own “carrier” using paper, tape, cardboard, rope, paint…voila! An Egg Collector Basket for Easter :)

Now you have more than enough to do leading up to Easter, have a great holiday!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 2 of decluttering: The mess under the stairs

I know it doesn't look like much in this photo but believe me when I say that The mess under the stairs (with a capital T) has been a problem area for a long time! We don't have much storage space so under the stairs has become a bit of a dumping ground for old toys or toys that we don't have anywhere else to store. I have been avoiding sorting out this area for awhile (particularly because we've had mice in the house recently and I was dreading what I was going to find buried under all these toys - ewww!)

I cleared out everything from under the stairs to start with, throwing out all of the toys/other bits that were broken or not of any use anymore and then sorted out what toys I wanted to keep, sell or giveaway. I vacumed and cleaned the area (thankfully I didn't find any mice!) I put back the toys that we will still use. I ended up with only about 1/4 of the amount of toys that we had in the first place so I was quite happy with that.

Everything cleared out and cleaned up.

I now have a pile of toys and other things to list on ebay. I hate listing things on ebay as I find it so time consuming but I'm hoping this pile will earn us a little bit of money. Especially since it's things the kids aren't really interested in!

The pile of toys for ebay. Yes, they are being stored in our old shower. If I didn't hide them the kids would want to play with them again and then I'd really have trouble getting rid of them ;)

And this is the end result: a much reduced pile of toys under the stairs! I'm quite happy with this weeks efforts! All the things that don't sell on ebay are going straight to the op shop too so I don't have them hanging around for ages.

Bliss - a much smaller pile of toys now stored under the stairs!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Egg Heads

Jacob (and Esme!) were given some wheat from his Kinder teacher as an Easter present. Jacob has been asking to plant it since we got it so today we planted it in some old egg shells. We used some batik eggs that didn't survive after being handled by Esme and a couple of Silkie eggs that had already been blown. We drew some faces on the plain eggs - Jacob chose a happy face and Esme chose a sad face.

We put some cotton wool into the egg shells and then sprayed the cotton wool to make it moist.

In goes the cotton wool.

Esme, concentrating intently on getting the water into her egg shells!

We then placed lots of wheat on top of the cotton wool and gave them a good spray of water.

Putting the wheat into the egg shells.

Lots of fun for the kids to do and very easy! We're all looking forward to watching the wheat grow and seeing our egg heads.

Easter Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival

This post is part of the Teach/Learn Carnival, April’s theme is Easter. If you would like to join in submit your own post here, or check back at just before Easter for the links to lots of great posts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Batik Eggs

I had my first attempt at making batik eggs at Steiner Playgroup the other day. Batik Eggs are made by dripping melted wax onto an egg and then dyeing them. I have to admit that my attempt at playgroup yielded much better results than the ones above (possibly because we used a good quality dye and candles!) but I think the ones we did at home still turned out alright in the end. We used blown eggs for this activity so we can keep the eggs. The eggs we made at home were make using generic food dye, a normal old candle (which was possibly a bit thick) and some white Silkie eggs (white eggs work better with the dye).

Here's how to make them:

STEP 1: Prepare the dye

To make the dye I mixed 3/4 cup warm water, 1 tbsp of vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon food dye. I made four different colours: yellow, red, green and blue. The colours are achieved by dipping the egg in a succession of different coloured dyes.

STEP 2: Drip melted wax onto the egg

Put a few drips of wax onto your egg. You can choose whether to drip dots of wax on the egg or just let it run wherever. The two eggs on the left in the first picture are made by dripping wax onto the egg (although not very successful attempts given my candle was a bit too thick!) while the other two were made by letting the wax run wherever. Remember that you will be putting more wax on to make different coloured patches as you go along so you don't need too much wax for the first layer.

STEP 3: Dip the egg into the dye

After the first layer of wax is on dip the egg into the dye. You will need to leave it in there for awhile and move it around slowly to allow the dye to penetrate. I usually start with yellow and then move to darker colours as I go on (this is the bit where you end up with interesting coloured fingers as you can see!)

STEP 4: Repeat the process

Once you have done the first layer repeat with more wax drips leaving the previous wax on. Dip the egg into the next dye colour (I chose red). Repeat the process with the wax and dye until you have used all the colours or you are happy with the colour (the more colours you dye the more coloured patches you will get).

STEP 5: Remove the wax

Once you are happy with how the egg looks you can remove the wax. This can be done by gently picking the wax off (be careful though as it can scratch the dye and leave marks). For bits that are hard to get off you can hold over the candle flame until melted and gently rub into the egg (this leaves a nice polished coating on the egg too)

This is a fun activity to do but it does take a lot of time. It took me a couple of hours to do these four eggs. Jacob and Esme were very interested in watching it to start with but it didn't take them long to get bored! Kids will also require close supervision when you are doing this activity.

Easter Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival

This post is part of the Teach/Learn Carnival, April’s theme is Easter. If you would like to join in submit your own post here, or check back at just before Easter for the links to lots of great posts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Handprint Chicken

With Easter coming up soon, what better thing to make than a chicken? This also ties in with our farm theme. The kids had a great time with this activity. They especially loved having their hands traced around to make the wings and combs and gluing the feathers on to decorate their chicken.

What you will need:

White, red and orange cardboard
Google eyes

How to make it:

Cut out a big circle and a small circle from the white cardboard.

Trace around kid's hands - once on the red cardboard and twice on the white cardboard. Cut out.

Cut out legs and beak from the orange cardboard. Cut out piece for above the beak from red cardboard.

Glue the two circles together. Glue red hand print on top for comb and white hand prints on sides for the wings. Glue legs and face bits on.

Glue feathers on body.

Jacob has his hand traced around to make the chicken's 'wings'

All the bits we need to make a chicken. Jacob can't wait to get started!

Esme glues some eyes onto her chicken

The feathers were a big hit too!

Esme proudly displays her chicken - look at all those different coloured feathers!

Esme was very taken with her finished chicken. It's actually still in one piece so I think that just shows how much she likes it ;)

Easter Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival

This post is part of the Teach/Learn Carnival, April’s theme is Easter. If you would like to join in submit your own post here, or check back at just before Easter for the links to lots of great posts.


The angel we made to remember our two little babies

Today is a day of remembering. It is the due date of our second little angel. I actually feel quite positive about today although there is a tinge of sadness mixed with that. This due date is so different to the due date of our first little angel (in August last year). Last time I was in the early stages of pregnancy and faced with uncertainty that the pregnancy was going to continue.

This time around, I am pregnant again but a lot further along. I know the baby I am carrying is healthy and growing well which makes the passing of this date a lot easier. Of course, I always wonder about what might have been but I'm ok with the way things have turned out.

I also feel that in some ways the baby I lost is letting me know that everything will be ok. An interesting 'coincidence' occurred the other day which led me to think this. I hadn't been in touch with my midwife for awhile and when I rang her she told me that she had made an appointment for me but hadn't told me when it was. Then she told me it was the 11th of April - today. So I got to hear this baby's heartbeat today and to talk about about the new life I am growing, instead of focusing on what I don't have right now.

To remember this day and the two babies I lost, Chris and I made an angel. I have hung it our bedroom and like to think that the spirits of my two babies are looking down on me. The beads I used for the angel are swarovski beads so when the light shines through them they make beautiful patterns on the walls. The two big beads on the angel's halo represent the birthstone colours for the months that our babies were due.

The two babies I lost will always have a place in my heart. But I'm happy now to look to the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 1 of decluttering: The sewing/craft stash

I've been inspired by the lovely Yvette over at Ramblings after reading of her recent decluttering efforts. So I have decided to embark on my own decluttering efforts. We have quite a small house (and not much storage space!) so things always pile up and make the house look messy. In a bid to get rid of these problems areas I have decided to tackle one decluttering project a week. I am due to have a baby in 12 weeks so I have decided not to do a whole year of decluttering but to just do one thing a week until the baby comes. Usually I get all motivated to declutter and then try to do everything at once and end up losing my motivation. So I'm hoping by keeping it to one project a week I don't lose that motivation!!

My first project has been to sort out my sewing/craft stash. My sewing/craft items to date have been stored in various places: in a wooden chest in our cupboard, a chest of plastic drawers in our room, the empty cot (oops...) None of the stuff was stored in any particular order. I tend to just throw things somewhere when I've finished a sewing project too so it was a HUGE mess. I wish I'd taken photos beforehand and when I was sorting it out so you could see what I mean! I literally had a mountain of material to sort through!

I bought some big underbed storage tubs and sorted all my sewing/craft stuff into these tubs. I threw out scraps of material that were too small to do anything with and other odd and ends that weren't useful. I weeded out material I didn't like or didn't think I'd use, as well as other things that I had doubles of and put them in a bag for the op shop. I made some great discoveries as well - I discovered I had lots of nappy making supplies left over from my last (disastrous) attempt to make nappies. I'm a more experienced sewer now though so hoping to use some of these supplies to make nappies for this baby ;)

Everything was sorted into four tubs. Tub #1 includes: nappy making supplies and other odd bits of material that are still useful. Tub #2 includes: all my good material.

The first two tubs are sorted: nappy making supplies/other odd bits of material and all my good material

Tub #3 includes all my felt (I make lots of stuff with felt!) and thread. Tub #4 includes miscellaneous craft bits: my laminating/book binding things, beading things and some paint.

The second two tubs are sorted: felt/thread and other craft supplies

When I'd put everything into these tubs I was then able to sort all my other sewing odds and ends into these (now empty) plastic drawers. Most of these things were being stored in the cot! I now have drawers for all my patterns and books, ribbons/elastic/buttons/threads and even my unfinished sewing work.

Nicely organised sewing supplies now in the drawers!

The plastic drawers can now be stored in our cupboard and the wooden chest that I was using to store sewing stuff in has been moved to Esme's room where it is a storage container for her (many!) stuffed toys.

I'm very excited about my future decluttering projects (actually I've already done next week's one but you'll have to wait until next Sunday to find out what that is!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A confronting situation

As most of you probably know, I am a Breastfeeding Counsellor with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. I love what I do. It gives me so much joy to help educate and support Mums to breastfeed. Most of my experiences with my volunteer work have been positive although there can be moments when you see a Mum struggling or experiencing a particularly tough situation that get to you.

Recently though, I was faced with a situation that was particularly confronting for me. A couple of weeks ago our group ran a Breastfeeding Education Class. I led the group, along with a fellow trainee. Our classes haven't been very full lately and on this particular day there was only one couple (funnily enough, I actually knew the Mother although hadn't had much to do with her in recent years). They were a lovely couple. So keen and passionate about giving their baby the best start by breastfeeding. It was a pleasure to talk to them about breastfeeding. During the course of the class we also talked about the upcoming birth and how their preparations for the new baby were coming along. They were excited and ready for their baby to arrive. They only had a few weeks to go.

Last weekend I received a message from a mutual friend. Their baby had died at 39 weeks. I read the message with total disbelief. My friend didn't know details of what had happened and I still do not know. But I cannot imagine how absolutely heart wrenching this must be for them. I just wanted to cry for them. I still do.

How do you pick up the pieces of your life and carry on after this sort of loss?

How do you deal with growing a baby for 39 weeks, to get to know it intimately, and then have to deal with losing it?

How do you ever get through another pregnancy after something like this has happened?

This was their first baby. They would have had so many dreams and wishes for this baby. Instead they are faced with empty arms. I don't know what to do. I only have distant connections with this couple so don't feel that it is appropriate for me to even send a message. I just want them to know that I am here, crying a river of tears for them. To let them know that their baby will never be forgotten.

It has also made me realise, even more so, how truly precious each little baby is. What a miracle of life they are. And I am savouring every little kick the baby in my tummy makes right now.

Wordless Wednesday

This is what Esme usually looks like after she's been playing in the back yard! I love that my kids enjoy playing outside so much (although I do usually insist they wear their puddlesuits if they're going to dig in the dirt ;))
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